Public Records Laws and Social Media Retention in
New Jersey Open Public Records Act Laws and Social Media
Social media records in New Jersey are subject to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), which defines records as “Any paper, written or printed book, document, drawing, map, plan, photograph, microfilm, data processed or image processed document, information stored or maintained electronically or by sound recording or in a similar device, or any copy thereof, that has been made, maintained or kept on file … or that has been received in the course of his or its official business …”
By this definition, public agencies’ information posted to social media and the comments received on those posts constitute records under New Jersey’s OPRA.
NJ Open Public Records Act Overview Text
Excerpt from NJ OPRA
Defines Government Record
“Government record” or “record” means any paper, written or printed book, document, drawing, map, plan, photograph, microfilm, data processed or image processed document, information stored or maintained electronically or by sound-recording or in a similar device, or any copy thereof, that has been made, maintained or kept on file in the course of his or its official business by any officer, commission, agency or authority of the State or of any political subdivision thereof, including sub-ordinate boards thereof, or that has been received in the course of his or its official business by any such officer, commission, agency, or authority of the State or of any political subdivision thereof, including subordinate boards thereof. The terms shall not include inter-agency or intra-agency advisory, consultative, or deliberative material.
New Jersey Social Media Records Policy in Practice
Many municipalities are still uncertain about how OPRA applies to social media records in New Jersey but are nevertheless taking steps to maintain records. This trend is significant when keeping records of comments removed from social media sites due to violations of an agency’s posting policy. One example of such policy and the records retention implications comes from Metuchen, NJ, which states, “[a]ny content removed based on these guidelines will be retained by the Borough Administrator and/or her/her designee pursuant to the applicable Borough retention policy.”
Social Media Policy – Borough of Metuchen
Excerpt from the Social Media Policy – Borough of Metuchen
6. The Borough Administrator and/or his/her designee shall monitor Borough social media sites to ensure adherence to both this Social Media Policy and the interest and goals of the Borough. Metuchen has the right and will restrict or remove any content that is deemed in violation of this Social Media Policy or any applicable law. Any content removed based on these guidelines will be retained by the Borough Administrator and/or her/her designee pursuant to the applicable Borough retention policy, including the time, date and identity of the poster, when available.
Social Media Record Retention Legal News in New Jersey
Read about New Jersey cases and precedents involving social media and public record retention.
New Jersey superior court judge rules that content on social media is a public record under OPRA.
A clerk in The Borough of Glen Rock denied a resident’s records request for social media content when he saw that council members were blocking citizens on Facebook. However, when the lawsuit went to a Superior Court, the judge ruled that such social media content is a public record under the Open Public Records Act. Glen Rock paid nearly $30,000 in legal fees.
Judge rules that a police department in Trenton, NJ is responsible for producing social media records.
After denying a records request for social media records, the police department received a lawsuit from the resident. As a result of the lawsuit, a judge ruled that the police department was responsible for producing records from social media and ordered the department to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees.
SOCIAL MEDIA ARCHIVING SOLUTION OVERVIEW
How Social Media Archiving Works
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